:::::: Editorials ::::::

GUEST EDITORIAL WITH DON LONG - "IT’S TIME TO STRAIGHTEN OUT THIS CHASSIS MESS"

2-15-08donlong.jpgMy name is Don Long.  For
more than five decades I’ve designed and built Top Fuel dragsters, cars that
have won more races than I can count, along with numerous championships and
builder’s awards that I’m very proud of. 
But, the thing I’m most proud of is my chassis safety record, which is
perfect.

I’ve been actively involved with SFI since it first came into
existence.  I was the senior member of
the former (disbanded June 7, 2006) SFI Chassis Committee.  There’s been enough written about the SFI in
recent months for it to be unnecessary for me to explain what it is and what
it’s supposed to do.

For those of you having difficulty understanding – and even
coherently reading – the recent SFI Top Fuel Chassis Spec, please be assured
that it’s not you.  This spec has become
almost completely incomprehensible on both the scientific and interpretive
levels due to a number of factors.

UP FRONT - RANDOM THOUGHTS AS THE SEASON BEGINS

2-13-08asherupfront.jpgDrag racing, on both the
NHRA and IHRA side of the track, is at an important crossroads.  The decisions made, or not made , over the
next year or so will go a long way towards determining the sport’s long term
future.  Will it grow into the mega-sport
many think it could become, or will it continue to more or less muddle along,
never quite reaching the heights we’d all hoped for?

UP FRONT - RANDOM THOUGHTS AS THE SEASON BEGINS

2-13-08asherupfront.jpgDrag racing, on both the
NHRA and IHRA side of the track, is at an important crossroads.  The decisions made, or not made , over the
next year or so will go a long way towards determining the sport’s long term
future.  Will it grow into the mega-sport
many think it could become, or will it continue to more or less muddle along,
never quite reaching the heights we’d all hoped for?

AS WE SEE IT - LEAD, FOLLOW OR GET OUT OF THE WAY

1-20-08asweseeit.jpgIn this world there are leaders and there are followers. As we see it, in the drag racing world, NHRA management has settled into a position that suits them well -- following.

Where do we start; with the championship format or maybe we should make a run at the still unpublished Funny Car specs?

Forgive us, isn't the SFI responsible for providing the specifications; at least that’s what the NHRA has said for years and is even now telling their critics. John Force Racing and Ford’s engineers are designing a new chassis and we are waiting for the results of their tests. 

Since when is an entity outside of the SFI and a competing race team responsible for establishing  chassis designs and specifications?

A CATALYST FOR THE NEW YEAR

Isn’t it funny how the simple things that seem so insignificant in our young lives can make such a huge impact as we age?

Take for instance a simple word - catalyst, I used to dislike the word, but now I thank God for it.

This dislike can be traced to the fifth grade when the difference
between an average and above average grade on a vocabulary test was the
word catalyst.

I thought it was a part on a car and answered accordingly.

SETTING THE RECORD STRAIGHT - THE FACTS AND FICTIONS REGARDING THE HDP ACQUISITION

Len Romanick is owner and principal of Quid Pro Know, a North Brunswick,
NJ-based freelance research company. He will spend the next few weeks walking the Torco's CompetitionPlus.com readership through the ins and outs of the proposed acquisition of the NHRA's professional racing assets by the HD
Partners Acquisition Corp. (HDP)
and dispelling the speculation that has permeated the drag racing community since the potential deal was announced in May.
 
This is his first installment on the topic. - Editor

Within hours of the public announcement on May 30th
of the proposed acquisition of the NHRA’s professional racing assets by the HD
Partners Acquisition Corp. (HDP), the racing press and online message
boards/forums went into swooning, virtual hyperventilation. Banner headlines
pronounced “NHRA—Sold!” or, “NHRA Under New Ownership.” No doubt, the choice of
verbage was deliberate so as to attract attention through shock, but these
grossly incorrect opening media salvos set the tone for the misinformation
feeding frenzy that followed on the message boards: A smorgasborg of stunned
uncertainty and confusion as well as some hysterical—sometimes hysterically
funny—tirades, rants, ramblings and dire warnings of impending doom.

OUR TAKE – IT WAS A MISSION OF HEALING

11-16-07powdragster.jpgThere are times in our lives when we do good things simply because it’s right to do them.

Turn back the clock to a time when the next season of drag racing was
just around the corner. Evan Knoll, ensconced in a gliding chair,
mulled over the various possible ways in which Melanie Troxel’s new
dragster could be used to benefit various charities. Somewhere around 3
am, it came to us, Knoll and myself, how we could both help and honor a
huge group of people who in a time long past felt more spit upon than
welcomed.

An elaborate plan of featuring various charities was replaced with a
plan to honor war veterans, especially the Vietnam veterans, because in
our minds, they’d had to stand at the back of the honor line for far too
long. We wanted to include the National League of POW-MIA Families
because unfortunately, we’ve still got over 1,700 servicemen
unaccounted and missing despite the war being over for 35 years.

Our focus decided I would place the first call to driver Melanie Troxel
informing her of the game plan. Her response sounded as if she was
confused. “Okaaaay,” she responded, adding that she would immerse
himself in project having no real connection to the Vietnam War
herself. Troxel was still a young impressionable child at the time the
conflict came to a close.

UP FRONT - FIXING THE COUNTDOWN

10-30-07asherupfront.jpgThis is not an editorial in the normal sense of the
word. On the contrary it is, rather, a compendium of opinions and ideas sought
and received from a significant number of professional competitors. Some were
and remain qualifiers for this year’s championship, while others missed the cut,
a few by significant margins. All of their viewpoints count and should be heard,
but as has historically been the case with the National Hot Rod Association,
when it comes to accepting advice and guidance from outside the confines of 2035
Financial Way, they have often been unwilling to listen and positively respond
to suggestions.

For those hard core denizens of the Internet who continue
to hope for a return to their version of the good old days in which a straight
forward, earn-the-points-and-you-win-the-championship points chase is conducted,
that no longer seems feasible or even remotely likely. The NHRA has firmly and,
it would seem, permanently jumped on the playoff concept of drag racing, and
that, in and of itself, is not all bad. As virtually every competitor we’ve
spoken with has said, if the Countdown produces higher television ratings and
more fans in the seats, they give it a big thumbs up. While it may be too early
to tell regarding the TV ratings, it would appear that the Countdown has
generated additional print and electronic publicity for the sport, and there’s
nothing negative about that. If they’re talking about drag racing – good, bad or
indifferent – it’s a positive.

STRAIGHT AHEAD by Jeff Wolf

11-19-06-jeffwolf_2.jpgThis past weekend was the second NHRA national event I wasn’t looking forward to attending.

The first was in April because I knew Eric Medlen wouldn’t be there.
The death of Medlen a few weeks before in a testing crash still rattles
me each time I see the John Force Racing pit area whether at a national
event or when the teams were testing at Las Vegas Motor Speedway two
weeks ago testing.

The anxiety was compounded when the team was here getting Robert Hight
tuned up for the Countdown and Force was still hospitalized in Dallas.
It was even worse knowing the team was wrestling with a seemingly
unreliable chassis.

There were more anxious moments each time one of Force’s four Funny
Cars went down the track this weekend in the ACDelco Las Vegas NHRA
Nationals at Las Vegas. Yes, John Force Racing fielded cars for Hight,
Ashley Force, veteran Phil Burkart in Force’s car and Mike Neff, who
competed in his first NHRA Funny Car race as a driver

FILLING IN ON THE FLY by Lisa Richards

1-2-07-prettyflycover.jpgI apologize to any Geezer fans out there, but I’m high-jacking his
column!  I’m his daughter, Lisa, and I just returned from spending a
day with him at the Nitro Jam World Finals in Rockingham, NC.  I have
to preface this editorial with a little background about who I am. I’m
a Business Analyst for an e-commerce and logistics company which
basically means I’m half business professional and half geek.  I can
grep XML log files for transaction data and I can use SQL to join
tables to query the database.  I’m the Project Manager for some high
profile projects in our company, but I don’t know SQUAT about drag
racing!  That was the case until this weekend.   

Dad has been after me to attend a race for 2 or 3 years now but various
things have kept me from attending.  I’ve been trying to work with him
all summer to find a day when my schedule agrees with the IHRA
schedule.  Needless to say, he was very excited when it became clear
that I was finally attending a race.  He emailed me and IMed me several
times to tell me he would have 2 tickets waiting for me at the gate. 
Then I got a phone call at work on Friday to remind me again that I had
tickets waiting for me at the gate.  I got up early Saturday morning to
meet my friend, Brian, for the four-hour drive from Greenville, SC to
Rockingham, NC.  Before we even got out of town, I started getting
phone calls from the Geez asking if I was on the road yet.  It turns
out that it was a good thing that he checked in on a regular basis
because he gave us crappy directions.  Great photographer, crappy
cartographer.  Oh yeah…it took us about 3.5 - 4 hours to get there and
not 4.5 – 5 hrs like he said it would.  I figured after all these years
hanging out with race car drivers he would have learned to make good
use of that gas pedal by now.

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